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- Blackboard Feature of the
"Filling the Pool, Part 2"
- Teaching with Technology:
"Power to...the students?"
Topic: "How to Combine Several PowerPoint
Presentations into One"
- For more, visit our
podcast notes page
for Episode 52.
Technology News Briefs
- Microsoft has released Virtual PC 2007 for
Virtual PC 2007, you can create and run one or more
virtual machines, each with its own operating
system, on a single computer."
- For those of you with tablet PCs, the Microsoft
Experience Pack for Windows Vista is available
for free download. Windows genuine validation
is required. The experience pack contains:
- Media Transfer.
stream media files from your home computer to
your Tablet PC, so that you can enjoy your
favorite music, videos, or pictures wherever you
- Ink Crossword. Solve
crosswords on your Tablet PC using your tablet
pen. Twelve puzzles come with Ink Crossword. You
can also download a free daily puzzle and
purchase more puzzle packs online.
- Equation Writer. Easily
add mathematical expressions to your papers.
Handwrite a math equation, and then convert it
into a neatly typewritten image to paste into a
report or a presentation.
- Ink Flash Cards.
flash cards to help you learn facts or study for
an exam. Handwrite a question on the front of a
card and put an answer on the back. Draw, insert
graphics, and add text, too.
- Also from Microsoft, in concert with
Associated Newspapers, Inc.,
Hearst Corp. Microsoft has announced free reader
software that can be used to read those periodicals
with their original look and feel.
software is built on the Windows Presentation
Foundation, Microsoft's new advanced graphics
technology. The three periodicals join the
New York Times, whose truly excellent ereader we
have been using for some time. Tech types are
asking, why should I install a separate application
to read each journal. They underestimate
reader loyalty, though, to the look and feel of the
here for the Microsoft press release.)
- In another indication that Steve Jobs, Apple
Inc. CEO, may actually be writing his own material,
after blaming the Apple DRM on record companies, he
blaming teachers' unions for bad public schools.
To quote Mr. Jobs: "This
unionization and lifetime employment of K-12
teachers is off-the-charts crazy."
International Atomic Energy Agency and the
International Organization for Standardization
(ISO), after an 11 country study, have developed a
new radiation symbol indicating that it is, indeed,
time to panic and run. It is not meant to be a
public symbol, like the beloved and familiar black
on yellow three-cornered trefoil, but rather a
symbol that will become visible when disassembling
devices containing sources of dangerous radiation,
like food irradiators, hospital therapy devices and
industrial radiography units (IAEA
PSP, M.D.: "Doctors who
reported having played video games at least three
hours a week sometime in their past worked 27%
faster and made 37% fewer errors on the surgical
tasks compared with those who had never picked up a
game controller, according to the study in the
Archives of Surgery...game-playing skill was a
better predictor of success on the surgical tests
than years of medical practice or number of
surgeries performed" (LA
Times). And you thought GonGon was wasting
his time battling Dr. Bad-Boon in Super Monkey Ball!
- It was revealed this week by
Gramophone that the recordings of the late
Joyce Hatto are fakes. Though Hatto (who
died in 2006) was certainly obscure, Gramophone
started championing her brilliant recordings to the
point where "To love Hatto recordings was to be in
Gramophone has revealed that the same said brilliant
recordings are not the works of Hatto at all, but
rather the works of other concert pianists, produced
by her surviving husband and sold fraudulently.
So how was the discovery made? By iTunes!
A Gramophone critic placed a Hatto CD in iTunes and
iTunes identified it as the work of another artist.
He tried another, and the same thing happened,
another different artist. (iTunes identifies
tracks byh calculating a discid based on track
length, and then connects to the
Compact Disc Database for artist details.)
Gramophone, now hot on the trail, hired Pristine
Audio to investigate.
Pristine found that the Hatto recordings are, in
fact, the work of others, in some cases slightly
time modified. Hatto's husband says he cannot
explain the remarkable similarities.
Click here to listen to the story being told on
BBC radio 4 by Gramophone editor James Inveme (real
media - about 1 minute in).
Safari Tech Books Online featured book this week is
How Digital Photography Works by Ron White:
"...gives you detailed information on the
hidden workings of digital cameras, professional
picture-taking techniques, and even photo-editing
software." Safari Tech
Books Online are accessible from on-campus or with
password off campus.
Listen to the news [mp3 -
The Blackboard Feature of
the Week - David Gray
Filling the Pool, Part 2 (or,
There’s A Hole In The Bucket, Dear Liza, Dear Liza)
If you’ve ever tried to create an online test in
Blackboard, you know that filling in all the
questions is a time-consuming process. Last week we
looked at different options for pulling in large
numbers of questions in Pools from textbook
publishers. Now let’s take a look at the “typical”
process of assembling questions pools: one at a
There’s some “good news/bad news” about manually
adding questions to pools. The good news is that the
Pool Manager and Test Manager in Blackboard work
just about identically, so once you know one, you
shouldn’t have problems using the other. The bad
news is that the process of adding questions
manually into a question pool is tedious. (This is
one of those things that will make you wish you had
T.A.s or interns!)
The most direct method of creating question pools
is to just go into your Blackboard course, into the
Control Panel, and click the Pool Manager link in
the center right of the screen.
you want to make a new pool, just click the Add Pool
button in the upper left corner, and this will ask
you to specify a Name, with an optional Description
and Instructions. Name the pool, then click submit.
If you already have a question pool in the Pool
Manager that you want to work with, click the Modify
button at the right of the pool.
Either way, you will end up looking at the Pool
Canvas, which you can add questions to. With
nineteen options on the Add Question list, I won’t
try to go into detail on all of them right now, but
we should take a look at the most commonly used
question type: Multiple Choice.
To add a multiple choice question, select
Multiple Choice from the list and click the GO
button next to the list. (NOTE: If you instead click
the OK button in the lower right corner of the Pool
Canvas, you will be returned to the Pool Manager
without adding a question.) When the
Add/Modify Multiple Choice Question form loads, it
has some obvious fields, such as Question Text and
Answer fields. The default is to have four answers,
but they can be removed down to two answers, or the
Number of Answers list can be expanded up to twenty
There are some options controlling how the
questions are displayed, such as numbering the
answers or how they should be oriented (Horizontally
or Vertically) and a choice to randomize the order
of the answers for each student. Also at the bottom
of the page are fields to input Correct and
Incorrect Feedback, should you wish to associate
feedback with the question.
Users of the Test Manager may notice an omission
on this page; there is no field for filling in
Points Possible. Pools do not associate point values
with individual questions, but instead leave point
value designation for the Test Manager to worry
about. At any rate, to submit the filled out
question just hit the Submit button in the lower
right of the screen.
You should be returned to the Pool Canvas, with
your Multiple Choice question listed there. (There
is a green check mark next to the correct answer on
the list. If you need to make any changes to the
question, just click the Modify button to the right
As you can see, it’s simple enough to enter a
single question; now rinse and repeat for each
question you want in the pool.
“There’s a hole in the bucket, deal Liza, a
Teaching with Technology -
Dr. Haydn Davis
Power to . . . the students?
It’s probably safe to say that all instructors
appreciate student participation in their classes. We’ve
all had the experience of asking a question and having
the entire class look down or look back at you while no
one says anything. It fortunately doesn’t happen often
but when it does, it’s deadly. So we think up ways to
get students actively involved. I visited a class
recently in which the instructor didn’t just claim to be
a facilitator, he actually practices it. Students worked
in small groups for most of the class, discussing course
topics and then talking to the whole class about their
discussion. Class was noisy, a little unruly at times,
but no one was falling asleep and they were, for the
most part, staying on topic. The instructor did an
exercise in which he asked students to write,
anonymously, on post-its what they liked, didn’t like,
and wanted to change about the course. The overwhelming
first choice was to keep the group activities. Students
rate the class higher and learn better when they’re
active – whether through group activities or some other
In an online class it is possible to develop group
activities – through Blackboard’s groups feature for
example – and Dale Vidmar, in an article published in
Online Classroom, discusses another way to increase
student involvement. Vidmar acknowledges the importance
of maintaining threaded discussions in an online class
and suggests that students can be given some of the
responsibility for facilitating and assessing threaded
discussions. To make this work Vidmar advises
- Develop a rubric for evaluating discussion board
posts ( in addition to publishing this rubric,
Vidmar provides posts from previous classes and asks
students to distinguish between well constructed and
- Students are required to post open-ended
questions based upon the reading or other content
and students have to reply to each others’ questions
- Students are placed in groups of three and each
group is required to moderate one of the discussions
(and presumably, suggest the points students have
- Each student then selects two or three of their
best posts and explains why they think this is their
best work based on the rubric (this forces students
to think critically and reflect on their comments)
- Threaded discussions done this way can count as
much as 40% of the course grade
Tech-Talk-Topic - Terry Gray
How to Combine Several
PowerPoint Presentations Into One
I am often asked how to combine
multiple PowerPoint presentations into a single one.
There are a couple of reasons you might want to do this:
1. Several speakers are
presenting in sequence and they don't want to take the
time to load their separate presentations in PowerPoint
between speakers. (This is usually teachers
speaking at a conference, or students presenting as a
group before a class).
2. A teacher want to combine
slides from various prepared presentations into a new,
Here is what to do, using PowerPoint
First, open your "base" presentation.
Modify it to contain only the slides you want, and then
save it as a new presentation so you won't overwrite the
original. In the slide outline panel (or in slide
sorter view) click on the slide after which
you wish to insert new slides. Now, click on
Insert > Slides from Files...
In the Slide Finder dialog that
appears, click the Browse button. Browse to the
file location of the first presentation you wish to
insert, click its file name, and click "Open."
Thumbnails of the slides in the selected presentation
will appear in the Slide Finder "Select slides" area.
If you wish to insert the entire
presentation click the Insert All button. If you
wish to insert only selected slides, hold down the Ctrl
key on your keyboard and click the thumbnail of each
slide you want to insert, then click the Insert button.
the checkbox in the dialog illustrated immediately above
that reads "Keep source formatting." If this box
is checked, the source formatting in the imported slides
will be retained. If not, the imported slides will
adopt the formatting of the presentation into which they
are being inserted. If you are building a
presentation from multiple sources to be presented by
different individuals, you will probably want to retain
their original separate formatting, and therefore place
a check in this box. If you are creating a new,
unified presentation from various sources, you will
probably want them to have the same design and therefore
NOT check this box. In any event, a new design
template can easily be applied to all slides after they
are imported and assembled.
Simple and effective.
Podcast Episode 52 |
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